Compensating and reimbursing family members

This post is an update to our previous post regarding travel for family members.

Recent changes in Social Security policy have forced us to change our policies and procedures regarding compensating and reimbursing family members.  On May 17, 2012 the Social Security Administration published a change to the POMS (Social Security Manual) regarding Trusts.  Please see SI 01120.201 F.2.
You will see that Example 1 outlines what expenses will be allowed for sole benefit trusts.  Travel for family members is often paid from a Special Needs Trust.  Now, the Social Security Administration will not allow for payment of travel for family members to come and visit the beneficiary. We are still able to continue to pay for a beneficiary to personally travel and take vacation.

We can, however, continue to compensate or reimburse a family member who provides services to the beneficiary; at least presently.  The Social Security Administration has hinted they may soon challenge the ability to pay family members for any services.  Until such a change in policy, we will continue to pay or reimburse family members for services rendered to the beneficiary.

Services must be received directly by the beneficiary in order to be paid from the Special Needs Trust.  A summary of time and services must be provided with the request for payment.  Copies of receipts must be submitted when seeking reimbursement for travel expenses incurred on behalf of a beneficiary.  Charges and reimbursements must be reasonable based upon the services performed.  Finally, only the person providing services may be compensated or reimbursed.

We will keep you informed if Social Security makes any changes that require us to adjust these procedures.

Travis D. Finchum and
Steven E. Hitchcock

Florida Bar Certified Elder Law attorneys
Co-Trustees, Guardian Trust


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